Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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MONTEVIDEO -- West central Minnesota has sent hundreds of men and women to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and experienced the sorrow of losing seven of its own. One of the heaviest burdens fell on soldiers serving in the 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery of the Minnesota National Guard.
OLIVIA -- There's no place like home, especially when it comes wrapped in a package and reaches you in a faraway land. "It's a real morale booster,'' said Sgt. Mark Morse, with the Minnesota National Guard in Olivia. Morse received his packages while serving two deployments with local troops in Iraq and Kuwait in 2004-05 and 2009-10.
GRANITE FALLS -- For the last 17 years, a World War II-era bomber has continued to fly missions. It flies from a base in South St. Paul to communities across Minnesota and beyond. The "Miss Mitchell'' continues to fly today to honor the men and women who built and served on these aircraft in World War II, according to the volunteers who brought it Saturday to the Granite Falls Municipal Airport. "Beautiful,'' is how Owen Larson described its landing.
SPICER -- Roger Benson and Ray Oie spend their summer days baiting hundreds and hundreds of fishing hooks but almost never pull up a fish. Yet they consider themselves among the luckiest guys on the water. As volunteers with the Willmar chapter of Let's Go Fishing with Seniors, they let their guests catch the fish. They take home the real trophies. "Story after story,'' said Benson of the tales his guests tell on the water. There's a certain magic that happens on the water that neither of the two can easily explain. They've seen it in so many ways.
MONTEVIDEO -- Chippewa County has filed a charge of third-degree criminal sexual conduct against the Clara City man who allegedly self-reported his own crime with phone calls that also triggered a search for him by law enforcement officers. Cheyenne Clay Johnson, 42, of Clara City, is charged with the felony count for allegedly assaulting a juvenile female at a residence in Clara City. District Judge Paul Nelson ordered bail set at $100,000 unconditional and $50,000 with conditions during a hearing held late Wednesday afternoon, according to court records.
BIG STONE COUNTY -- A public interest group is charging that heavy metals and chemicals are leaching from coal ash stored at the Big Stone power plant near Milbank, S.D., and contaminating groundwater at the site. The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources -- charged with regulating the ash storage -- refutes the claims contained in the report by the Environmental Integrity Project. The report "In Harm's Way'' takes aim at what it calls inadequate regulations nationwide to regulate coal ash storage.
BENSON -- If you're looking for some good economic news, it's here. "Agriculture has been one of the bright spots in the last couple, three years here that we've been going through some hard times," U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., told a gathering of employees Wednesday at the Case IH facility in Benson. Agriculture's economic importance is easy to see here. The company expanded its workforce by 100 workers in the last two years, according to Kim Heiden, plant manager. It's the largest private employer in Swift County with 430 employees.
CLARA CITY -- A 43-year old man is in custody in Chippewa County after allegedly sexually assaulting a 17 year-old girl and then reporting the crime on a cell phone while in a corn field. The man triggered a manhunt and rescue effort by also reporting he had stabbed himself. The man, facing formal charges today, called the Chippewa County sheriff's dispatch around 5:30 a.m., according to Clara City Police Chief Ralph Bradley. He allegedly told the dispatcher he had sexually assaulted the girl at a residence, fled into a corn field with a knife and stabbed himself.
OLIVIA -- The Renville County Board of Commissioners decided not to act on a petition by the city of Bird Island to remove itself from the County Ditch 66 system and instead pay an annual, fixed outlet fee. The decision came after the commissioners met Tuesday with three viewers -- the "disinterested residents" required under state statute with determining the benefits of a drainage system. The commissioners had appeared willing to approve the petition to remove the city from the system, but the commissioners and city are at odds over what the annual outlet fee should be. The city of Bird I
Lac qui Parle County is taking to the road to put the digital divide behind it. The county on Wednesday plans to unveil its "computer commuter,'' a mobile comp-uter laboratory that will off-er free Internet access and computer training to residents. The modified, transit-style bus will be making regular visits to six different communities in the county. It holds seven different computer st-ations, one of which is handicapped-accessible. Also on board will be Mary Quick, its coordinator.